CHARLOTTESVILLE, JAN. 22 -- In the end, Herman Moore drew up mental lists of the pros and cons of returning to the University of Virginia for a fifth season, with the latter far outweighing the former -- which consisted solely of the all-America wide receiver's desire to remain near friends and teammates.

Moore, who told the Washington Post Monday that he would forgo his final year of college eligibility and enter the April 21 NFL draft, stands to make more than enough money to afford frequent trips back here, regardless of his city of employment. But Moore, who will graduate in May as a redshirt junior, insisted today that his decision was not motivated by the big money that almost surely awaits him in the NFL.

At a news conference here this afternoon, Moore lamented that there were no college football worlds left for him to conquer.

"There wasn't anything more that I could accomplish on the college level than what I did this year," said Moore, who caught 54 passes for 1,190 yards and 13 touchdowns -- including an NCAA record nine consecutive games with a touchdown reception. "I felt I had the best season that I'm going to have. Even next year, if I had come back, I don't think I could have had a better year."

Moore finished sixth in the Heisman balloting, and may have finished higher had the Virginia athletic department not earmarked most of its promotional budget on quarterback Shawn Moore, who injured his thumb with a week left in the season and finished fourth. Still, Herman Moore insisted the prospect of contending for next season's Heisman was more pipe dream than prospect, and that it had little to do with his decision. "I don't think my chances would have been as good as some of the players who will be back next year," Moore said.

Moore said he made the final decision a week ago, after a committee consisting of Coach George Welsh and three staff members spoke with NFL contacts to gauge Moore's probable selection in the draft. Moore stressed since August that he would leave early if his advisers projected him as a first-round pick, and he will depart with Welsh's full blessing.

"Virginia was fortunate to have a young man of his caliber, not only as an athlete, but as an individual and a student," Welsh said. "I wish him well. I think he has a great career ahead of him in the NFL."

Moore, a native of Danville, Va., has been projected as a top-10 pick by two draft analysts. He professes an affinity for the San Francisco 49ers -- or any warm-weather team.

"I think at this point if I go out and perform well, any team would want me," Moore said. ". . . There's a point in time where everyone has to move on. I was fearful of coming to college and moving up to another level. This is the same thing. Right now I'm looking forward to the challenge. It's something I think I've thrived on."